Publication Date

September 1, 2001

Perspectives Section

AHA Activities

At its meetings of June 16 and 17, 2001, the AHA Council took the following actions:

1. Approved a joint nominating jury for the two Council honors—the honorary foreign membership and the Award for Scholarly Distinction

2. Approved the fiscal 2001–02 budget, with a projected expenditure of $2,799,154 and revenue of $2,811,815.

3. Approved publication of the annual election results in the Annual Report.

4. Approved a limited tuition reimbursement plan for AHA staff members pursuing higher education degrees.

5. Accepted an invitation from the Council of Independent Colleges to become an affiliated member.

6. Approved the size of the Joint AHA-OAH Committee on Part-time and Adjunct Employment. The Committee on Committees will appoint the six AHA members this fall.

7. Adopted the following resolution in continuing support of the Joint AHA-OAH Committee on Part-time and Adjunct Employment:

Resolved, that the OAH and the AHA should publicize existing statements of best practices in employment of history faculty, and both organizations should commit themselves to encourage the acceptance of these standards by publicizing them to accrediting agencies, state legislatures, guides to higher education, and the National Association of Guidance Counselors, among others.

Resolved further, that the AHA will support the efforts of the joint committee to formulate quantitative minimum standards for part-time employment.

8. Approved revision of AHA policy concerning violations of the rights of foreign historians and U.S. historians abroad:

The American Historical Association is committed to the academic freedom of all historians. Article II of the AHA constitution and bylaws sets as its objective "the promotion of historical studies" through teaching, research, publication, the collection and preservation of materials, and the dissemination of historical records and knowledge. Academic freedom relates directly to this stated purpose. The AHA will, as appropriate, protest violations of the academic freedom of foreign historians and United States historians abroad which are brought to its attention.

In order to respond in a timely fashion, the following steps will be adopted.

1. The executive director and the president of the AHA in consultation with the Professional Division or relevant Council members, as feasible, will review reported allegations of violations of academic freedom.

2. If allegations of specific denials of academic freedom appear to fall within the purview of the AHA, they will be forwarded along with any supporting data to the Academic Freedom Committee of Human Rights Watch (HRW) or to other pertinent investigatory organizations concerned with academic freedom. The executive director and the president of the AHA will ask the cooperating organization to investigate the allegations and report their findings to the Association, along with information on the actions that the investigating organization intends to take in the matter. Advice on how the AHA can best help in the effort will be requested as well.

3. The executive director and the president of the AHA will take this report to the AHA Council for their information and, as appropriate, for a decision on taking action.

9. Approved revisions to the Statement on Standards. (changes in bold):

Section 4, paragraph 6:

For example, academic historians need to know the relative weight given to scholarship, teaching and service, as well as the value given to different forms of these activities, and how, taken together, they affect decisions about retention, tenure or promotion.

"Addendum on Policies and Procedure" section, 3d paragraph:

The executive director will circulate the complete form to the members of the Professional Division, who may vote to either accept the complaint for full review, decline to consider the complaint, or delay a decision pending further discussion. The Professional Division will base its decision on its judgment of the division’s capacity to handle the matter in light of its resources and competence; the seriousness of the complaint; the degree to which the complaint alleges specific violations of the AHA Statement on Standards; the likelihood that the AHA will be able to make a positive contribution to resolving the problem; and the availability of a more suitable forum or means of redress, such as a university grievance procedure of the AAUP.

10. Approved revisions to the Statement on Diversity in AHA Nominations and Appointments (the revised document will be published in the October Perspectives with the call for nominations for elective office for 2002).

11. Established a task force on intellectual property issues.

12. Approved signing site licensing agreements with EBSCO Subscription Services and Copyright Clearance Center for the American Historical Review and Perspectives.

13. Approved the composition of the 2003 Program Committee with additional appointments forthcoming.

14. Endorsed a resolution supporting research by independent scholars:

Resolved that the AHA will continue to provide access for independent scholars who are AHA members to its own databases; will urge other restricted databases to provide reasonable access for independent scholars; and urge university and other research libraries to consider independent scholars as their natural constituency who should have access to electronic databases and digitized materials.

Resolved that the AHA will cooperate with other learned societies and the ACLS to encourage research libraries to rethink their interlibrary loan policies to lend materials more broadly (such as out-of-state and to public libraries) especially in light of the new possibilities for economics from electronic systems.

15. Approved changes to the terms of the John K. Fairbank Prize in East Asia to say (changes in bold):

"… for an outstanding book in China proper, Vietnam, Chinese Central Asia, Mongolia, Manchuria, Korea, or Japan, substantially after 1800.”

16. Approved in principle the AHA's participation in the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP)–World History Framework.

17. Approved the nominations of the following historians to serve three-year terms on the American Historical Review's board of editors.

Gail Stokes (Rice Univ.)

Rudy Koshar (Univ. of Wisconsin at Madison)

Kären Wigen (Duke Univ.)

18. Agreed to expressions of gratitude to the departing members of the AHR board of editors; Jeffrey Wasserstrom, the acting editor of the AHR; and the dean of Indiana University.

19. Approved a proposal to replace the board of contributing editors of Perspectives with an eight-member advisory board that would meet once a year (at the annual meeting) to discuss the current direction of Perspectives and suggest possible topics and authors for future articles.

20. Accepted an invitation to partner with the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress in the new, congressionally mandated Veterans History Project.

21. Approved the nomination of two distinguished scholars to receive the Association's highest honor, the Award for Scholarly Distinction, at the 2002 annual meeting.

22. Approved a recommendation of the Joint AHA–Canadian Historical Association Committee to reconfigure the committee as a delegacy.

23. Adopted the following resolution in support of academic freedom and against the personal attacks on historian Michael Bellesiles:

Although it is appropriate to subject all scholarly work to criticism and to evaluate that work's arguments and its sources, the Council of the American Historical Association considers personal attacks upon or harassment of an author, as we have seen directed at Michael A. Bellesiles following publication of Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture, to be inappropriate and damaging to a tradition of free exchange of ideas and the advancement of our knowledge of the past.

24. In consonance with its existing policies and recommendations, the AHA issued the following statement to the Board of Regents at the Smithsonian Institution regarding recent events at the institution:

Recent events at the Smithsonian Institution have raised serious concerns within the American Historical Association. As the leading organization of professional historians in the United States, the AHA takes as one of its major responsibilities the defense of intellectual integrity and scholarly rigor in the public presentation of history. It therefore reaffirms the History Exhibit Standards endorsed by the AHA and other professional organizations.

Private donations are an essential element in the funding of museums and other historical and cultural institutions. But private donors should not determine the subject matter or interpretive perspectives of historical exhibitions or the overall direction of museum policies and practices. Control over content should rest with the professional staff, not the representatives of private donors. We therefore urge the Smithsonian to revise its agreement with the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation to ensure that it upholds these principles of curatorial control and historical integrity. Since the Smithsonian is the premier institution for preserving the nation's historical legacy and is also substantially supported by public funds, it cannot afford to erode public confidence in the way it develops historical exhibits.

Institutions like the Smithsonian must change and grow, but such change must be carried out in consultation with the professional staff. We urge the NMAH to develop a comprehensive plan for the future presentation of American history. The exhibit planning process must always rest on a solid grounding of historical research. We believe that the historians and other professionals on the staff of the NMAH are best qualified to undertake this crucial task.

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